After a month-long delay, officials and rail experts from the two Koreas would carry out an inspection of western and eastern railway services of North Korea in an effort to connect and improve rail connectivity. During the initiative, a South Korean train is slated to depart for the communist country, Yonhap News Agency reported.
A first of its kind initiative since 2007, the South Korean Unification Ministry said that this would be the first time a South Korean train is slated to run from Mount Kumgang to Tumen River on the Donghae Line, following the division of the two Koreas after the 1950-53 Korean War.
The inter-Korean railway cooperation is being done to implement the Panmunjom Declaration, which was signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at an inter-Korean summit meeting in Panmunjom at the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) on April 27.
The joint railway inspection was slated to take place in August this year, but the US-led United Nations Command ordered the scrapping of the planned programme, citing procedural issues. A South Korean Unification Ministry official said that Seoul is on course to hold a foundation stone ceremony for inter-Korean railway and road connection projects within this year.
The official added that the two Korean countries would not leave stones unturned to complete the inspection within the fixed timeframe, given the paucity of time in preparing for a groundbreaking ceremony.
The official underlined that deliberations would happen for a probable exemption of additional sanctions required for the foundation stone ceremony while adding that the South Korean government would respect the rules of the global sanctions slapped against North Korea.
The Unification Ministry had earlier announced that efforts would be made by the neighbouring countries to modernise underground communication lines across Panmunjom for military communications.
South Korea's efforts to improve its ties with North Korea comes despite a note of caution from US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo who had asked South Korea to not let improvement in inter-Korean elections surpass de-nuclearisation efforts made by North Korea, pointing out the direct correlation between both the developments.
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